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Spotlight on Highly Anticipated Children’s Books of Fall 2015

The library houses a popular collection of new books for children. Below is a small sample of the highly anticipated children’s books published or scheduled to be published this Fall. Looking for more book suggestions? Check out the library’s online booklists for reading recommendations by grade. Or search NoveList to find read alikes of your child’s favorite book or author, or simply browse book suggestions by age, genre, subject matter, and more.

Picture Books


*Barnett, Mac. Leo: A Ghost Story.

Leo is a friendly house ghost–but when a family moves into his house, and tries to get rid of him, he leaves and roams the city looking for a friend.

*Daywalt, Drew. The Day the Crayons Came Home.

One day, Duncan is happily coloring with his crayons when a stack of postcards arrives in the mail from his former crayons, each of which has run away or been left behind, and all of which want to come home.

Henkes, Kevin. Waiting.

What are you waiting for? An owl, a puppy, a bear, a rabbit, and a pig—all toys arranged on a child’s windowsill—wait for marvelous things to happen in this irresistible picture book by the New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes.

*Martin, Emily Winfield. The Wonderful Things You Will Be.

Illustrations and simple, rhyming text reveal a parent’s musings about what a child will become, knowing that the child’s kindness, cleverness, and boldness will shine through no matter what, as will the love they share.

*Wood, Audrey and Don Wood. Full Moon at the Napping House.

In this cumulative tale, a chirping cricket calms a worried mouse, a prowling cat, and other restless creatures, helping them to finally fall asleep.

Early Reader


Willems, Mo. I Really Like Slop.

In I Really Like Slop!, Piggie invites Gerald to try her favorite food . . . slop. But Gerald is not so sure he’s going to like it. At all.

Juvenile Fiction


*Applegate, Katherine. Crenshaw.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again. Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

*Benjamin, Ali. The Thing About Jellyfish.

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.

Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School. (Expected Publication Date: November 3, 2015)

Life was better in the old days. Or was it? That’s the question Greg Heffley is asking as his town voluntarily unplugs and goes electronics-free. But modern life has its conveniences, and Greg isn’t cut out for an old-fashioned world. With tension building inside and outside the Heffley home, will Greg find a way to survive? Or is going “old school” just too hard for a kid like Greg?

Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer.

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision. Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

Selznick, Brian. Marvels.

The journey begins on a ship at sea in 1766, with a boy named Billy Marvel. After surviving a shipwreck, he finds work in a London theatre. There, his family flourishes for generations as brilliant actors until 1900, when young Leontes Marvel is banished from the stage. Nearly a century later, Joseph Jervis runs away from school and seeks refuge with a reclusive uncle in London. Albert Nightingale’s strange, beautiful house, with its mysterious portraits and ghostly presences, captivates Joseph and leads him on a search for clues about the house, his family, and the past.

*Stead, Rebecca. Goodbye Stranger.

Bridge is an accident survivor who’s wondering why she’s still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody’s games — or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?… This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl — as a friend?… On Valentine’s Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?

*Also available as an e-book from the library’s OverDrive collection

Managing Screen Time


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children spend an average of seven hours every day engaged in entertainment media. TV, computers, tablets, cell phones, video games, and other screen media vie for our children’s time and attention. When used appropriately, media can be an effective tool for teaching and learning, but studies show that excessive and inappropriate use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity.

With school in full swing, how can you ensure that you child is properly balancing recreational screen time with time spent on responsibilities at school and home? Perhaps these tips will help:


  • Discuss media behavior with your child, and create a media schedule.
    • Talking with your child about expected behaviors will teach them about media literacy and help with self-regulation. A media schedule might include the kinds of media your child interacts with, the types of activities they can engage in, and time limits, if necessary.
  • Don’t use a screen when real life will do.
    • If your child is studying leaves, for example, go outside to explore the trees around your home and neighborhood rather than using an app.

Boys Playing in the Leaves

  • Schedule designated periods of time to spend with your children without screens!
    • Your children look to you for cues on how to behave. If they see you frequently checking your phone or computer, they are more likely to adopt those behaviors as well. Make sure you are carving out time every day to focus on your relationship with your child.

Have you dealt with this issue in your family? What has worked for you? Tell us about it in the comments.

For more information on the topic, check out these websites:

American Academy of Pediatrics: Media and Children

Common Sense Media: How to Set Screen Rules that Stick

Common Sense Media: How Much Screen Time Is OK for My Kids

Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media: Technology and Family Life

Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media: How to Use Digital Media with Young Children

Boost Your Child’s Reading Confidence


Does your child struggle with reading or find it to be a chore? Try these helpful and fun tips from Margaret Hargrove of Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine to boost your child’s reading confidence and help make reading a more enjoyable experience.

  1. Make it a game.

Cuddling over a book shows your child that you’re his biggest fan. But it’s hard not to step in quickly when he struggles. What to do instead? Talk to him about the story to help him work it out, says Richard Gentry, Ph.D., author of Raising Confident Readers. Discuss the pictures, hunt for words he knows, or ask him if the story reminds him of an event that’s happened to him. Also help your child pinpoint where he’s gone wrong — see if he can spot the little word inside the larger one (“at” inside “hat”).

  1. Go to the dog(s).

Reading to a dog can help boost a child’s skills. How so? Because dogs are nonjudgmental — they can’t criticize and they can’t correct — so kids feel safe reading aloud to them. Visit the Castro Valley Library on Monday, October 5th at 6:30 or 7:00 PM to attend Paws to Read, a program where kids can read to specially trained therapy dogs (registration is required). “Kids learn best by teaching someone else,” says Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. “So whether they read to the puppy, the guinea pig, or Grandma over Skype, the unconditional positive feedback they receive will make them feel better about themselves.”


  1. Get crafty.

Add a few books you make together to the reading rotation, suggests Gentry. Your DIY book can be about trucks, pets, or another interest. Start with a few words on a page (“My cat is in the basket”), a favorite photo on each page, and a simple title (My Animal Book).

  1. Shorten sessions.

New readers can easily get overwhelmed. To figure out how long your child can last, compare his attention span when he does similar activities, like coloring, says Borba. Once you’ve got a clue, use a timer to gradually lengthen the session so that your child is reading for longer and longer stretches. “It’s like gently stretching a rubber band without snapping it,” she adds. “If your child knows he only has 15 minutes to read, he’ll be more focused and engaged — and the spurts will be more productive.”

  1. Look past books.

Adventures in reading can extend beyond books. Trips to the grocery store can be great teaching experiences, says Borba. Your kiddo can create a shopping list and find those items at the store. Little sports fans can use trading cards to discover more about favorite players. “And don’t overlook the obvious, like word games on the back of the cereal box. Kids won’t even realize that they’re learning while they eat,” says Borba.

Have you tried any of these tips? Tell us about it in the comments!

Keeping in Touch with the Teacher

As parents of school-age kids know, getting back into the swing of things after the summer break is a multi-step process.

By now you’ve bought thparent teacher communicatione back-to-school clothes and supplies, figured out transportation logistics, and are working on how to get everyone out the door on time in the morning with the least stress.
Still ahead on your to-do list may be establishing successful lines of communication with the teacher(s) in each of your children’s classes and the school staff.

Devorah Heitner, founder and director of Raising Digital Natives, offers helpful tips on her blog.

Got any tips on how to work with teachers most effectively? Share them here!

Back to School Best

backtoschoolParents Helping Teachers

Tips from the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) can help make this year a much smoother and productive year for your child.  Here are some great tips for providing support for your child and your teacher.

  1. Create a smooth takeoff each day. Give your child a hug before she ventures out the door and you head to work. Look her in the eye, and tell her how proud you are of her. Your child’s self-confidence and security will help her do well both in school and in life.
  2. Prepare for a happy landing at the end of the day when you reconvene. Create a predictable ritual such as 10–20 minutes listening to your child talk about his day—before you check phone messages, read the mail, or begin dinner. That way you are fully present to listen, and your child has a touchstone he can count on between school and home.
  3. Fill your child’s lunchbox with healthy snacks and lunches. Have dinner at a reasonable hour and a healthy breakfast. A well-balanced diet maximizes your child’s learning potential.
  4. Include calm, peaceful times in your children’s afternoons and evenings. Maintain a schedule that allows them to go to school rested, and if they are sick, have a system in place so they are able to stay home.
  5. Remember it’s your children’s homework, not yours. Create a specific homework space that’s clutter-free and quiet. Encourage editing and double-checking work, but allow your kids to make mistakes, as it’s the only way teachers can gauge if they understand the material. It’s also how children learn responsibility for the quality of their work.

For more tips visit the PTA website @:  http://www.pta.org/programs/content.cfm?ItemNumber=1718



This peanut butter dip is a great to snack on while working on your homework.  Makes 1 1/3 cup.

PB dip

Peanut Butter Dip

3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt 1/2 cup reduced-fat peanut butter 1/3 cup raisins 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 2 apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices 3 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into 4-inch sticks 2 cups small pretzels

  1. In a small serving bowl, stir together yogurt, peanut butter, raisins and cinnamon. Serve with apples, celery and pretzels.


grilled CheeseGrilled Cheese and Apple Sandwich

A twist on your average grilled cheese!  Makes 4 servings.

    • 8 slices 12-grain bread
    • 4 teaspoons honey-mustard
    • 6 ounces 2% cheddar, shredded (about 1-1/2 cups)
    • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced


  1. Spread 1 piece of bread with 1 teaspoon honey-mustard then layer 14 cup grated cheese, 4 apple slices and another heaping tablespoon cheese. Top with another slice of bread; spritz with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place sandwich, cooking sprayside down, in pan and coat top slice of bread with nonstick cooking spray. Press with spatula.
  3. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Search Family Circles website for other healthy after school snacks:  http://www.familycircle.com/recipes/healthy-eating/snacks/after-school-snacks/



Leaves by David Ezra Stein

A very young bear becomes worried when leaves begin to fall from the trees.  He tries catching them and putting them back on, but it’s not quite the same.  Sleepiness takes over and after hibernation, spring greets the bear.  All Ages.




Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julie Rawlinson

When his favorite tree begins to lose its leaves, Fletcher the fox worries that it is sick, but instead a magical sight is in store for him.  Ages 3 and up.


This school year

This School Year Will Be the Best by Kay Winters

When a teacher asks her students on the first day of school what they wish for in the coming year, the answers range from having a good school picture to receiving a perfect report card.  Ages 4 and over.


Crafty Thursday

relaxingDid you relax and have fun this summer? Hopefully you did, and got nice and refreshed for a new year at school! For most of you, this is your last free week – make the most of it!

-sleepOne way to get ready for school is to start going to bed and getting up earlier. Plan what you’re going to wear the first day, and organize space for school books and materials, and a place to do any homework.

stack of booksMake a list of all the books you’ve read over the summer – and I hope you played the Summer Reading Game and won all the prizes. Did you have a chance to use any of the tickets or coupons? They don’t expire right away, so maybe you still have time.

contest-painted-sneakersSomething else to do – ask your parents for permission first! Go through all your clothes, shoes, toys and books and separate out the things that don’t fit, are too worn out, or you don’t play with or read any more. If they’re in good enough shape to pass along, donate them. Find things that still fit but might need mending – and mend them! If you have some favorites that still fit but have stains, bling them up!

Terrific T-Shirt Fun: 25 Tremendous T-Shirt Designs and Creations to Try by Petra Boase

sew fabNature’s Art Box: From T-Shirts to Twig Baskets: 65 Cool Projects for Crafty Kids to Make with Natural Materials You Can Find Anywhere by Laura C. Martin

Hacking Fashion: T-Shirts by Kristin Fontichiaro

Crafts for Styling Your Wardrobe by Susannah Blake

Jumbo Book of Needlecrafts by Judy Ann Sadler

Learning to Sew by Kathleen Petelinsek

Sew Fab: Sewing and Style for Young Fashionistas by Leslie Ware


Back to School


It’s almost time to head back to school (some of you may be back already).  Time to start thinking about a healthy breakfast and lunch so you can do your best in class.  Here are a few recipes that will give you plenty of energy throughout your day.

sunrise breakfast


Sunrise Breakfast


Whole grain bread- 12 slices with crust taken off Eggs- 1 dozen Bacon- 1 package precooked bacon Butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Grease a muffin tin with butter and place one slice of bread into each hole pressing down in the middle. Press bread slices into each hole of a greased muffin tin Crack one egg directly onto each slice of bread. Precooked Bacon Heat bacon in the microwave according to directions (about 1 minute) and place one cooked slice into each egg Place one slice of precooked bacon into each egg Bake until egg is just cooked, or until desired consistency- yolk runny, about 10 minutes; slightly runny, about 13 minutes and cooked thoroughly, about 17 minutes


Easy Breakfast Parfait

A burst of fresh fruit, crunchy granola, and healthy yogurt makes this a quick and delicious way to begin your day!


  • fresh blackberries (or other fruits/berries)
  • bananas, peeled and sliced
  • granola (or other favorite crunchy cereal)
  • yogurt – you choose the flavor


  • grated coconut
  • nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
  • honey or agave nectar
  • pinch of ground cinnamon


Layer the ingredients in a small bowl or jar (clear is nice since it looks so gorgeous).  Eat or refrigerate for later.  This works well in a thermos for lunch as well.  adapted from: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/easy-breakfast-parfait/



Peanut Butter, Jelly & Apple Rolls

Super fast and easy, this recipe could be substituted with any kind of butter (Almond, etc.) or hummus and apples as well.  Kids can make their own lunch with this recipe!



Whole wheat tortillas

Good quality peanut or other butter

Jam or jelly

Thinly slice apples

Spread peanut butter on one side of tortilla, add a layer of jam or jelly.  Arrange apple slices down center of tortilla.  Roll like a burrito and put in a toothpick if necessary to hold together.


Deconstructed Sandwich

This is much more fun to eat than a normal sandwich.  Include some of your child’s favorites.

Lunch meat

Cheese cubes

Crackers or Pita bread


Cut up veggies, such as snap peas and baby carrots

More healthy lunch ideas:



Splat the catBack to School Splat by Laura Bergen

When Splat comes home from the first day of school, his homework is to pick one fun summer adventure to share with his class, but how can he pick just one?

Daddy’s back-to-school shopping adventure by Alan Lawrence SitomerDaddy's

When Mommy and Daddy take Jake and Jenny back-to-school shopping, they are determined to stick to their list but when Mommy steps away, requests for items not on the list abound, including one from Daddy.

Easy Lunches

Cool lunches to make & take: easy recipes for kids to cook by Lisa Wagner

Describes how to cook lunches with these easy-to-cook instructions, tools, and ingredients needed.  Kid Friendly!


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